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Room Full of Mirrors
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Listen in 26 min.
Learn the key ideas of the book by Charles R. Cross

Room Full of Mirrors

The life of Jimi Hendrix, overshadowed by suffering and excess

The culmination of 4 years’ work and over 325 interviews, this book is an attempt to show the human side of one of the biggest icons of twentieth century music. During his research, author Charles R. Cross managed to rediscover the burial place of the musician's mother, Lucille Hendrix Mitchell, whose grave in Seattle's Greenwood Memorial Park was left unmarked and forgotten, just like the many meaningful events that took place during Jimi Hendrix's life and childhood. This biography also managed to capture the narratives of Hendrix's life from those key witnesses who were still alive when it was written and who, one by one, have gradually passed away. The pages of Room Full of Mirrors, taken from the title of a song that was never officially released while Jimi was alive, take the reader on a moving journey into the real life of the greatest left-handed guitarist in the history of music.

Room Full of Mirrors
Read in 21 min.
Listen in 26 min.

Jimi Hendrix’s family come from various ethnic groups and nationalities who have suffered for generations

Jimi Hendrix was born on 27th November 1942 in Seattle which, at the time, had just under 400,000 inhabitants, and was booming. At birth, his young mother chose to call her child Johnny Allen, but was terrified of telling his father, who was pathologically jealous of his wife, and in the army at the time, and could have taken the choice of that unusual name as a tribute to a possible lover or, perhaps, the child's true father.

There has been a lot of confusion surrounding Jimi’s name, and the spelling of it, which he began to use at the age of 22: in any case, his family and friends called him by the nickname Buster, which was given to him by his aunt Delores when he was born. She named him after the comic strip Buster Brown.

Jimi's parents - Lucille Jeter and Al Hendrix - met as teenagers in a club on bustling Jackson Street in Seattle, in what was called the Central District, a multi-ethnic melting pot, as well as a place of black pride and culture, music, in a wild fury of exuberant inhibition. The couple’s roots were a real mixture of diverse ethnicities and social classes: freed slaves, white masters, Native Americans, and immigrants. It is also interesting to note that both on his mother’s and his father’s side, two of Jimi’s great-grandfathers were white slave masters married to freed black slaves, his great-grandmothers. The dysfunctional dynamics of these relationships, which were somewhat emotionally erratic and socially misplaced, also seem to have had a profound effect on the subsequent family events, which were completely lacking in any stability, and were as violent as they were intense.

Lucille, who was unemployed and living as a guest at the home of a family friend, Dorothy Harding, had to deal with some very serious struggles within her family as well as having no money, when her first son was born. With her husband in military service, a very fragile mother, and the untimely death of her father, she struggled to offer her child the stability he needed, and even ended up leaving him with an acquaintance in California for a time.


The key ideas of "Room Full of Mirrors"

Jimi Hendrix’s family come from various ethnic groups and nationalities who have suffered for generations
Jimi was born into a poor family that was lacking in any kind of stability, and had to deal with trauma at an early age that affected him for the rest of his life
Jimi Hendrix’s childhood was fraught with poverty, profound insecurity, and serious emotional neglect
The discovery of music gave Jimi a glimmer of hope and changed the course of his adolescence
Jimi took his first steps into the world of music without knowing where he was going, but he was bewitched by his guitar, and dedicated his body and soul to playing it
In 1960’s America, it was tough for a black person to make a living as a musician
Jimi Hendrix arrived in London as a nobody, and in just a few days his life took an unexpected turn that catapulted him to stardom
The Monterey Pop Festival marked a turning point in Jimi’s notoriety in the States where he had suffered poverty, discrimination, and had been given little recognition
In London, the late sixties were a time of redemption, affirmation and stratospheric success for Jimi, which reached its peak at the American concert, Woodstock, in 1969
Jimi Hendrix’s relationships with women were invariably complicated but his female companions always offered him emotional, financial, and professional support
When Jimi Hendrix died at the young age of twenty-seven, he was already very worn down by the wheels of fame, a rollercoaster that he himself had set in motion, and which he could not stop from rolling
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